The Great War came to an end with an armistice that started at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
And with the end of something comes a beginning. On Nov. 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson in a message to the American people described what he felt the end of the war meant to them. He called the day Armistice Day.
On June 4, 1926, Congress adopted a resolution asking that President Calvin Coolidge issue an annual proclamation calling for the observance of the day with “appropriate ceremonies.”
Congress enacted a law on May 13, 1938, making the day a legal federal holiday.
In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks of Birmingham headed a delegation to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, which asked that the observance be expanded to honor all veterans. Eisenhower agreed.
In 1947, Weeks began leading an observance each year in Alabama.
On May 26, 1954, President Eisenhower signed into law a bill that Congress had passed broadening the observance to honor all veterans. Congress came back on June 1, 1954, changing the word “Armistice” to “Veterans.”
In 1971, there was yet another change. This one did not sit well with the American people. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act changed the observance of the day to the fourth Monday in October. This lasted during 1971-1977. In 1978, Veterans Day returned to Nov. 11.
Remember Veterans Day honors veterans of service and not those who died serving the country. Memorial Day in May honors those who gave their lives.